Birth of Jonithan, 2011
When I had a positive pregnancy test one week after Blayne’s first birthday, I was panicky. My older kids were 3 years and 10 months apart. How was I going to handle a fourth? How was I going to handle a baby when my youngest was still a baby? Let me tell ya, twenty months apart is entirely different than almost four years apart! And yes, I know people have babies closer together than that; it’s NOT for the faint of heart! It took me about 4 months to warm up to the idea of having 2 babies so close together.
I didn’t even tell David. Not really. He was talking about doing something that would keep him away from home a lot. I simply said, “I’m going to need you around home sometime around the first of the year … “
He glared at me. For what seemed like forever… and he said, “are you serious? …”
I said, “…what? ...”
He said, “are you pregnant again?”
How does he read me like that?!?
I wanted a homebirth. So much wanted a homebirth. But I had no idea that a homebirth was an option in Nebraska. Until I met my good friend, we’ll call her Mary. We were at a mutual friend’s house. I had met this woman, but we’d never really talked. I knew she had “a bunch of kids” and that was about it. I have no idea how the conversation got to where it was. I remember my ears perking up when I heard the words “home birth”. I said, “you’ve had a homebirth?!”
She said, “yes”
I said, “where did you live”
She said, “here”
I said, “in Nebraska?!?... here… in N.E.B.R.A.S.K.A.?!?” …. (I was sure I’d misunderstood)
She said “yes”
I said “ok, we HAVE to talk” and I then practically pulled another friend from her chair so I could sit next to this woman who’d had my dream birth.
This was the first time I’d ever heard of unassisted birth. I do not remember my first reaction, I don’t even remember anything else about that night. I just remember knowing that now I knew of a way to have the homebirth I so badly wanted.
I have no idea how much longer it was, but I was sitting outside with my husband, looking at the stars. I was nervous of how he would react, so it took me awhile to talk myself into finally blurting out my heart’s desire: “I don’t want to go to the hospital to have this baby”
He said, “just go to the hospital”
I said, “why?”
He said, “just go to the hospital”
End of conversation.
Why didn’t I say more? I froze. My mind went blank. I had no idea what to say. I knew all my reasons, I knew how deeply my heart needed a better birth, how much I needed to stay home, but I didn’t know how to convey that in this moment.
I saw the same doctor I had seen with my first 3 kids. I really don’t know why. I suppose I felt some sort of obligation to use the same doctor again. Like I had no choice. Like I couldn’t change. She knew me. She knew I would want no tests and a natural birth. It was easy. It was comfortable. The introvert in me didn’t want to try to find another doctor. The introvert in me didn’t even think about going to anyone else. She wanted to do a dating ultrasound, as I wasn’t sure when I had conceived, since my cycles were 51 days apart (which is totally normal while breastfeeding! And I was still breastfeeding my then 13-month-old). I consented, part of me not really feeling pregnant yet, and I needed it to be real. An ultrasound did help that. Seeing a baby on the screen.
The date I had was December 25th. The ultrasound gave me a due date of January 7.
I saw my doctor one more time, a month after that. At which point she informed me that she had taken another job and would no longer be in Kearney. I felt let down. What was I going to do now? The introvert in me didn’t want to think about it. She suggested another doctor in the same office, so I decided to give it shot. I saw that doctor twice. It wasn’t what I wanted. She wasn’t resonating with me.
I do not remember looking for another doctor, or asking around, so I can’t say how that all played out. But I had an appointment in Hastings with a CNM (certified nurse midwife) for my 30 week appointment. I had also found a doula. I met with her, and another natural birth mama for lunch before my appointment with the midwife. It was one of the first times I felt not weird for wanting a homebirth. Every other person I had talked to thought I was crazy. These amazing ladies opened many doors for me. They gave me names and book titles. I bought a book called “Unassisted Childbirth” by Laura Shanley. I met with Barb, the CNM and it was like no other OB appointment I’d ever had. We talked. Like actually talked. For maybe 45 minutes! She used a fetoscope to listen to my baby, I’d only had a doppler used before that. I was practically drooling over the amazingness of how incredibly different this was! I felt like what I wanted for my birth not only mattered, but that she agreed that my desires would be best for me and my baby. I remember thinking that I wish that Nebraska law didn’t forbid a CNM from attending a homebirth, because she would make an amazing homebirth midwife!!
I told her I didn’t want the blood glucose test. She said the doctors (who she’s required by law to collaborate with) will let her let me skip it, only if I agreed to random finger pricks. Ok, I can do that.
I loved every visit with her. I talked about wanting to stay home, she wasn’t against it! I talked and talked and talked about staying home. As much as I loved Barb, I really wanted a homebirth. I had found an amazing facebook group for unassisted birthers and loved chatting with other women who felt the same way I did. I was dreaming of how amazing it would be to just stay home. I dreamed of where I would birth. How it may look.
David knew I wanted a homebirth. At 36 weeks he came home and said, “I won’t have anything to do with it! If the kid dies….”
I cried. I was raised to believe that the man is the final authority of the household. If he says something, that’s the way it is. I cried. I agreed to go to the hospital for him.
One week later, I thought it was probably time to start packing my hospital bag. I threw in some stuff I knew I wouldn’t need every day. The baby book, baby clothes, blanket, my clothes, etc.
I made a roast in the crock pot. I planned to freeze most of the leftovers. I’d had contractions off and on for a few days, but since I was just 37 weeks I didn’t think it was more than Braxton hicks. I had been trying to clean, but had so much cervical pressure that I felt I had to sit. So, I was sewing. Making a baby blanket. I was so glad the kids were now off of school for Christmas break, and I was finally in the mood to get ready for baby. I had just finally washed baby clothes and cloth diapers a couple days before. I was mashing potatoes around 5:45 and I had to ask David to take over because of the incredibly intense pelvic pressure. Then I couldn’t eat. Food made me gag. I had no idea I was in early labor.
We sat down on the couch to watch TV. I said, “I’m having some serious contractions over here!” but I still thought it couldn’t possibly be labor. I decided to go to bed. By 9:12 I decided maybe I’d better time these. And by 10:00 I finally realized it was labor. I got out of bed and went to the bathroom, where I had a gush of blood plop into the toilet. I told David that we’d better head to the hospital. He was sick. I also had been sick a couple weeks before, I had slept in the chair for a week because I coughed worse when laying down, and now, still had a lingering cough. Staying home didn’t even cross my mind, and I really think it was because I had promised David that I would birth this baby in the hospital. My mother in law arrived to stay with the kids, and I called the hospital and my doula from the van. The OB nurse said they wouldn’t call Barb until I got there and they checked me, which, of course would mean she’d miss the birth. My doula was friends with my midwife, so I just asked her to call for me, since the nurse had said they wouldn’t.
David started to set the cruise control for 65 and I said, “NO!! DRIVE FASTER!!” About 30 minutes still from the hospital I unbuckled my seatbelt and put my knees on the seat, leaning on the back, so I could be on my knees. That felt so much better! I kept checking my maps app to see how close we were. I wanted out of the van. I wanted to move. I needed to MOVE!
We arrived at the Hastings hospital at 11:50pm, I had 4 contractions between the doors and upstairs. The nurse was kinda freaking out because I told them I didn’t want a wheel chair, I wanted to walk. As we stepped out of the elevator I told my doula “no I.V.!!”
We got to the birthing room at 12:00. My doula provided counter pressure through a contraction. I turned and looked at her out of shock – there was no more pain, no more pressure. It was like it had made my contraction vanish! I was using hip circles to help with the pain through the next few contractions, I put on my sundress instead of a hospital gown, the nurse held the fetal monitor onto my belly, told me to not worry about her, to do what I needed to do and she’d just move with me. This was so much better than any other birth I’d had! I got into the bathtub around 12:20. (my camera time stamped the pictures for me 😊). The hip circles had really helped a lot, but getting in the hot water was amazing!
I tried pushing. It just felt right. My doula noticed and let the midwife know. I had to get out of the tub, (now about 12:40) to be checked, as hospital policy prevented water births. I had to pee, and then the midwife checked my cervix (first and only cervical exam). A calm look came over her face. She said, “why don’t we go into the other room, and have a baby!” I was fully dilated.
I got onto the bed. I did not lay down. Nobody asked me to. Nobody told me to. I was on my hands and knees on the bed. My doula asked if I wanted David to sit on the bed for me to lean on, I said yes, so he came and I leaned over him for a couple contractions…. The midwife reminded me not to be loud, but to direct that energy into pushing. This was encouraging. I pushed as my body led me to. My water broke, splashing David. He stood up and moved. Three pushes later, my baby’s head was out, I had a half second to breath and then the rest of him slid into the world, at 12:55 am. He didn’t cry and was nursing within 2 minutes. My doula and my midwife helped me lean back. Barb asked if she could cut the cord, and I said to wait. I don’t remember the placenta, but Barb did tell me “they’re going to make me give you something if you don’t stop bleeding”. I didn’t need anything, and I believe the power of suggestion helped. Mind over matter is powerful. No perineum tearing, the first birth I’d had without.
We checked to see that he was a boy. I had hoped for a girl, but it was ok. I had just birthed my baby on my terms. It was the first time I felt I had birthed, rather than having birth happen to me. I had no IV, no meds, no continual monitoring, I didn’t even lay on the bed until after. My baby had no gel in his eyes, no shots, no drugs. I did have to fight a nurse who wanted to give him formula. They weighed him at 2 hours, 6 pounds 9 ounces. He nursed some more, until I was ready to shower. Then we went down the hall to the postpartum room and finally, around 4am I was alone with my tiny new baby. I couldn’t sleep, but was so tired. I sat holding him, reflecting on the birth. It was so amazingly different!
He nursed well all day. I still sat in amazement at the birth. I wanted to go home, but chose to wait the recommended 24 hours. David was still sick, so he didn’t bring the kids to visit and I missed them so much. I just wanted to go home. My mom and dad came to see us, and while grandpa held him, he cried for the first time.
The next night I had fallen asleep with him (now around 20 hours old), and a nurse woke me as she took him out of my arms. I woke up and picked him up again, annoyed that I had finally gotten to sleep and she’d woke me up. It took a while to pick out a name, this had become a trend, waiting a day or more to name our baby. We finally settled on Jonithan. I wasn’t crazy about it, but I wanted to go home and couldn’t think of anything better. His middle name had to be Hunter, as little David had been telling me for months that the baby was a boy and we should name him Hunter.
When David and the kids came to pick us up, he had forgotten the diaper bag. And Blayne had pooped. The lovely kind of everywhere poop that is never good…. and did you read that part that said David didn’t bring the diaper bag?! No diapers. No clothes. Poop. Everywhere. Up the back, down the pants and no diaper bag. While David went to find a store to go buy diapers and clothes I had to figure out how to deal with poop. Blayne, 20 months old, had a bath in the hospital bathroom sink and then sat wrapped in a towel until David got back. We then went home. I was so tired. I was so happy to be home where I could sleep with my baby, because otherwise I’d have still gotten no sleep.
The next day home was hard for me. I called a friend who came over and folded my laundry and washed my dishes. My kids were going nuts. Breastfeeding went great, thankfully, and I decided to go to my first La Leche League meeting when he was four weeks old. Jonnie lived in my arms, mostly in the wrap. At first a stretchy wrap, then later as he got bigger a woven wrap. He spent the better part of 2 years strapped to my chest, or on my breast. He loved his milk. I nursed him all through my next pregnancy, and had to night wean him when his baby sister was 8 months old, then had to wean him altogether 2 months later, when he was 36 months.
This was the first birth where I hired a doula. I would never again birth in a hospital without a doula.